Every day we scan news headlines and social media for items of interest to the field of suicide prevention. Here’s what we found last week:

Whistler pucksters get mental health messagePique
November 2, 2019

Buddy Check for Jesse, a mental health initiative for young British Columbia hockey players has expanded this year to include all teams with players aged 11 to 14. Each team will receive mental health kits which include resources for coaches as well as mental health awareness wrist bands and green stick tape (the colour green symbolizes mental heath awareness).

This is the second year of the program which was started by Dr. Stu Gershman, whose son, Jesse, died by suicide in October 2014. There were 150 teams involved in the beginning, mostly on south Vancouver Island, but there now are over 1000 teams province-wide.

The program teaches youth that mental health issues should be treated no differently than physical health issues and to provide support to those who need it.

Gershman hopes he can connect with other provincial and territorial bodies nationwide to extend the reach of the program beyond British Columbia.

New Cape Dorset health centre could hold those on suicide watch, inquest hearsCBC News
October 31, 2019

A new health centre under construction in Cape Dorset will be the first in Nunavut to contain a “safe room” for those considered a suicide risk. The information came amid day three of an inquest into the death of Adla Pudlat, who died in RCMP custody on May 20, 2016.

The inquest heard of other initiatives that have started in the territory since Pudlat’s death. These include training programs to teach Nunavut-specific cultural competency to non-Inuit employees, in addition to suicide awareness and prevention programs. Embrace Life Council’s Executive Director Esther Powell “suggested that all RCMP officers could receive the cultural training — which would include learning about the prevalence of suicide in the territory — before starting work in Nunavut”.

Commentary: State needs black-youth suicide prevention task forceAlbany timesunion
October 31, 2019

Opinion piece by New York state senator, David Carlucci, concerning the rising suicide rates of black adolescents in the United States found in a CDC report and increased attempts in a recent study in Pediatrics. The CDC report showed a 60% increase for black adolescent males and a 182% increase for black adolescent females between 2001 and 2017. The Pediatrics study revealed a 73% rise in suicide attempts among black teens.

The senator calls for mental health providers and school personnel learn the signs of depression that black youth typically exhibit. He also says that there needs to be more mental health service providers in the schools. He is sponsoring legislation which calls for the establishment of a black youth suicide prevention task force.

1 mln Australians with serious mental health conditions untreated per year: report  – Xinhua
October 31, 2019

A report by the Australian Productivity Commission says that up to one million Australians with a variety of mental health conditions go untreated every year. It also states that the economic toll of mental illness on the Australian economy amounts to about 180 billion Australian dollars(124 billion in U.S. dollars) per year

Productivity Commission Chair Michael Brennan said “Mental ill-health has huge impacts on people, communities and our economy but mental health is treated as an add-on to the physical health system. This has to change”.

The report states that 3.9 million people in Australia suffering from mental illness but only 2.9 million were accessing services and supports. This gap is how they determined  the “missing million”.

For these Sacramento seniors, dancing and tai chi can create communities – and prevent suicide Sacramento Bee
October 30, 2019

A seniors community services center in Sacramento is offering classes on ballroom dancing and tai chi to its Vietnamese, Chinese, and Hmong seniors. It is a wellness program with suicide prevention as its goal.

The suicide rate for Asian American men and women 65 or older is the second highest among all age groups. This program aims to reduce this risk among the Asian American ad Pacific Islander community. Many of these seniors are prone to isolation due to language barriers and difficulties adjusting to their adopted countries. These are new adverse experiences compounding the traumatic experiences many have from their homelands due to war.

Khanh Dinh, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, says that “Many experienced the loss of their countries, death of loved ones and sexual abuse in their country of origin or during migration”. 

The ballroom dancing and tai chi classes allow participants to re-connect with activities they did in their youth and help to alleviate loneliness, isolation, and feelings of low self-esteem.

Police officers vow to address cop suicide crisis: “Let’s just all admit we’re broken” CBS News
October 30, 2019

188 police officers have died by suicide in the United States so far this year. This is twice the number that have died in the line of duty. Police commissioners from across the USA met in Chicago on Tuesday to address the crisis. 

Many,  including the wife of a 21- year police veteran of the Massachusetts Police Force who took his life in 2006, believe the “culture has to change”. It is a culture which discourages help-seeking and “expression of emotion or mental health”.  

Matt Thornton, a detective in Illinois, believes it is time for police to reach out and get the help they need. “Let’s just all admit we’re broken and join arms and let’s talk about this stuff,” he said.”Because we’re not meant to do this by ourselves, we’re not meant to suppress all this”.

Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation in N.L. declares suicide crisis CBC News
October 29, 2019

There have been a large number of suicide attempts in a First Nations community in Newfoundland and Labrador in the last few days. It has prompted Shehatshiu Innu First Nation to declare a crisis. 

Chief Eugene Hart believes the attempts are the direct result of the death of a 20-year old woman whose body was discovered Saturday. This death, along with 14 other deaths in recent months (all natural causes), has sparked a contagion of suicidal behaviours because of a lack of necessary mental health services to deal with the grief (especially among the young).

The Chief says the community has some resources, including a healing centre, but is need of outside assistance as well: “We can’t do it all. We’ve got resources as well but we need help outside as well, and that’s starting to roll in now as we’re speaking,”  he said.